I played in the Mini-Spingold in the Las Vegas NABC last week. My team was me, Paul, Buffy, Tomb, and LCC. Tomb and LCC had met for the first time a few days prior to the event, played the Life Master Pairs, and placed a very impressive 59th overall. Tomb, LCC, and I would be anchoring, and Paul and Buffy would be platooning with me, generally Paul the odd quarters and Buffy the even.
With 99 teams in the field and a need to get down to 64 for the next day, the bulk of the matches were three-ways with two survivors. We were the 42nd seed and would be playing one much higher seed and one much lower seed.
1st eighth, vs. the low seed:
We bid a pushy red 3N-- pard opened a strong NT with his good 14, and I forced to game with KJT85 76 AT86 J2. Lose six. One other small partscore swing their way, and afer seven, we were down 12-1.
2nd eighth, vs. the high seed:
Pard severely underdefended 1N – lose six; 3N – lose 11; 3N – lose 10. Ouch.
The opponents had the auction 1D (1S) P (P) 3D (P) 3N. Dummy (the 1D-3D bidder) held A T9x AJT9xxx xx. Down 4, for 11 back. Dummy chastised his partner-- “You knew I didn't have a good hand- I would've doubled with a good hand!” This is the high seed? We also gained 6 back for staying out of a bad white game, going 170 opposite -50. We were down 30-17.
3rd eighth, low:
I'm starting to get the feeling that these players have well over the equivalent of 5000 MPs in their home country. I don't know that we're going to be able to beat them.
They bid everything that moved-- getting to two games that LCC and Tomb didn't. The last board, I thought we needed a pickup, so on the last board, all red, holding 976 Q8 Q9873 AQ7 over pard's 1H, I bid a forcing NT, then an invitational 2NT over his 2C call. I guess pard was in the same mindset, because he raised to game with xx AKT9x Ax JT9x. They led the five of diamonds. I played low from dummy, and righty took the king. I dropped the nine looking for a continuation, and I got one-- LHO played the jack under the ace. It turned out lefty led low from JT5! This filthy, filthy game came home (with an overberry!) for win 10. Down 30-11 after 14.
4th eighth, high:
This was the most ridiculous board of the event:
First I held 8754 AQ86 85 AKQ and opened a strong NT. Lefty passed, pard transferred to hearts, and righty overcalled 2N, both minors. I bid 3H, lefty 4D, pard 4H, and righty 5D. I thought we were in a game-forcing auction, so I doubled to show diamond losers... pard didn't think we were in a forcing auction, and figured me for a diamond suit like my actual club suit. So he sat, and they were cold for 6-- minus 650.
At the other table, they also opened a strong notrump. My teammate made some sort of a conventional double, Buffy's counterpart bid a systemically natural 2D meaning it as a transfer, and everyone passed. E-W took the same twelve tricks on defense as they did on offense at our table, and our teemies went +350. Lose 7. Would've been only two if I hadn't doubled... so, as usual, double of a making game cost 5 imps... just in a ludicrous manner.
Other than that, we were pretty on. We cracked an unfavorable notrump for 500 and win 9, and we bid a good grand. I held KT42 KQT654 A 62 over pard's 1S. I bid 2H, and over his 2S (not neccesarily extra length) I splintered with 4D. He checked for keys and bid 7S with his AQxxxx A KQxx Ax. Win 13.
When all was said and done, we were down 40-39 at the half.
5th eighth (I'll stop the low/high stuff-- team 1 is certainly much stronger than 2.):
We won 11 when the opponents missed an easy slam-- they keycarded and found out they were off one, and stopped. This is one of my biggest pet peeves (by partners, not by opponents.. I love when opponents don't know how to bid). If you're not strong enough / don't know enough to bid a slam when you're off only one keycard, you weren't strong enough to Blackwood in the first place!! A few other imps fell on the table for various reasons, and we ended the quarter down 34-25.
I opened an intermediate 3H in third chair at all red with – AJT986 AT63 962. Lefty doubled, and righty pulled to 3N. This is untouchable from that side-- doubler had Qxx of hearts, and notrumper Kx. At the other table, it went pass – pass – 1H – 1N – 2S – all pass, down three. Pard held king-seventh of spades and out. Not much else of interest happened, and at the ¾ mark, we were down 59-46.
Buffy and I turned it on and had a wall of a card.
We pushed a white game; we won 7 for a good white game, 450 opposite 170; then, I picked up at all white the best four-count ever:
52 9765 J3 KT643.
I passed, and pard bid 2C. I coughed up a positive response of 2D. He bid 2S, I bid a natural 3C, and he came out with 5H! What could this be but Exclusion Keycard? So I duly responded one without the queen (our response structure is zero, one without, one with, two without, two with, etc) and he bid the club granny. His hand: AKQJxx – Ax AQJxx. Cold for 13 tricks in clubs, but only 12 in spades. We hoped the opponents would get to the spade grand and go down... it was almost as good, though-- they stopped in 4S and made 6! Win 12. We picked up one when our teemies pulled an overtrick in 6H, and 13 more when the opponents missed a red slam. Then came:
KT7 JT9 T975 976. Pard opened 2N (red) and I figured my good spot cards were worth a lift to game. Pard was staring at a “Bridge Master 2000 Special” of Q32 AQ2 AKQ A432. Note the lowest spot cards possible. He impressed all at the table by bringing home ten tricks. The seven of spades was his ninth trick, and his entry to the 13th diamond for his tenth. Nicely done. Win 11.
On the last board, we got to the only game with a chance at making-- 4S on the 5-2. Splits were foul, and I went down two. The other table took a line of play that guaranteed down one, for lose 3. So in seven boards, we won the set 36-3 and the match 71-37.
We continued our mooseish ways, tacking on 26 imps and giving away none. My favorite board from this set:
I held QJ8762 53 J4 AQ9 at all white. Pard passed, righty opened 1D, I leapt to 2S, lefty doubled, righty bid 3C, lefty cued 3S, and righty bid a confident 3N. Auction over? Nope-- pard's in there with a resounding double. I duly led a heart (dummy's first “bid” suit), and dummy was K KJ8xx Qxxx KTx. Pard held Tx AQT9x T9x Jxx and we put it down 3 for a win 10 opposite 3N -1 at the other table.
We won this set 26-0 and the match 72-59. The tally for the final 14 boards was 62-3.
This is why I love playing with Buffy.
The weaker but higher ranking team lost, so we assumed the 29 seed going in to day two.